Dag Hammarskjold, the Formal Secretary-General of the United Nations, once said, “In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.” I believe holiness will always pass through the world of action. Holiness is proven both by what we do and what we choose not to do. But always, holiness demands action. Only God is Holy, but in our quest to be like Him, we must pursue holiness.
While it is not something we will obtain in this life, seeking after it provides great training for the next. Peter reminds us God said to be holy because He Himself is holy (I Peter 1:15-16). Since we know we are not holy, it seems obvious we must do something to become holy. In other words, holiness demands action.
We who have chosen to accept God’s gift of salvation and become disciples of His Son Jesus bear a responsibility to be holy. We have been set apart. We are called out from the world in which we live so we might provide an example to all people. If others can’t see a difference in the way you live, why would they be compelled to follow the God you follow? If they see no difference in your life, we are not providing an accurate reflection of our Creator King. This means we’re going to have to change some things about the way we live. It means we’ve got work to do. It means holiness demands action, and we’ve been lazy in pursuing it.
This is all part of working out our salvation (Philippians 2:12). What we have received by grace must then be acted upon to prove our sincerity and love. We’ve all seen more than enough professing Christians who give no evidence of regeneration by the way they live. They mistakenly thought holiness had been bestowed on them because they prayed a certain prayer, raised their hand at the end of a service, or got baptized in front of a church. These small activities won’t save anyone. Only the grace of Jesus can change someone, but we must respond to His grace by dedicating ourselves to His service. If we don’t love Him, our confession is hollow and our conversion worthless.
Holiness demands action. Salvation demands a truly repentant heart. Accepting Christ as your Lord is not a one-time decision. It is something we decide in each moment of our lives. If we confess our sins in all genuineness, with a sincere desire to turn away from them and live according to the commands of Christ, our salvation is assured. And if all this is true, we will have a burning desire to pattern our life after that of Jesus. We will have an insatiable need to be holy as He is holy. But holiness demands action. It is not for the passive seeker. As I’ve said before, you’re either all in or you’re out. There is no middle ground. Are you willing to do the work of holiness? Is He worth giving up everything to follow Him? It will take mercy. It will take grace. And yes, it will take work.